Mayo Clinic identifies best treatments for long-term survival in brain tumor patients

Dec 03, 2008

A new Mayo Clinic study found that patients with low-grade gliomas survived longest when they underwent aggressive surgeries to successfully remove the entire tumor. If safely removing the entire tumor was not possible, patients survived significantly longer when surgery was followed by radiation therapy. This study is available online as an advance publication in Neuro-Oncology.

Gliomas are a type of brain tumor that form in the brain or spinal cord tissue and can spread within the nervous system. Low-grade gliomas are malignant and slow growing; overall, patients' average survival is five to seven years after diagnosis, even with treatment. Annually, about 17,000 Americans are diagnosed with a glioma. Of that total, 3,000 to 4,000 are categorized as low-grade. Mayo Clinic physicians treat more than 4,000 adults and children who have gliomas and other brain and nervous system tumors each year.

"Mayo Clinic has a long history of expertise in treating patients with brain tumors," says Nadia Laack, M.D., a Mayo Clinic radiation oncologist and lead author of this study. "This makes our study unique in terms of the large volumes of patients seen here and the extensive length of follow-up."

Dr. Laack and a team of Mayo Clinic researchers studied the records of 314 adult patients with low-grade gliomas who were diagnosed between 1960 and 1992 and had an average of 13 years of follow-up. Nearly half of the patients who underwent aggressive surgeries (gross total resection or radical subtotal resection) were free of tumor recurrence 15 years after diagnosis.

When performing aggressive surgery was not a safe option, postoperative radiation therapy nearly doubled average survival. The average survival time was three years in patients who did not receive radiation therapy, while those who had radiation therapy survived an average of six years.

"This study is exciting because it shows how well glioma patients can do after surgery," says Dr. Laack. "An average of 15 years tumor-free is better than any previously published results. It is also exciting to discover that patients can benefit from radiation therapy. It not only lengthens the time before the tumor comes back, it actually improves the length of time people live. This builds on previous Mayo Clinic data that suggested similar results from a small study published nearly 20 years ago."

According to Dr. Laack, these findings may be controversial due to common concerns about possible long-term side effects of radiation therapy. At Mayo Clinic, these potential side effects are minimized by tightly focusing radiation therapy on the tumor, she says.

Article: neuro-oncology.dukejournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/15228517-2008-102v1>

Source: Mayo Clinic

Explore further: Six percent of colorectal cancer found to be interval tumors

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Improving radiation therapies for cancer mathematically

Mar 05, 2014

In a paper published in December in the SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing, authors Li-Tien Cheng, Bin Dong, Chunhua Men, Xun Jia, and Steve Jiang propose a method to optimize radiation therapy treatments in cancer patien ...

Recommended for you

Physicians target the genes of lung, colon cancers

12 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—University of Florida physicians and researchers are collaborating to map the genes of different types of cancer, and then deliver medication to attack cancer at its source.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops

Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research from UC Davis is exploring ...

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.